Friday, June 29, 2012

Rolling Over: A Tutorial

Hey guys! Today I'm handing the blog over to Maggie who will be doing a guest post entitled Rolling Over: A Tutorial. She's very skilled in this area, quite well known in her field, and I'm so excited to have her here today, sharing her knowledge with all of you. Feel free to follow up with her if you have any questions! She loves feedback!

Hey guys! Margaret here. My very first tip for rolling over is not to rush it. You've got time! Floor space! I know, there are so many things to investigate, but really, don't pressure yourself. Your mom will most likely continue to lay you in the same spot on the floor until you prove that you have conquered it, and she'll tend NOT to move dangerous objects until you've gotten ahold of them at LEAST once. So really, pressure's off.

Once you're ready, take a minute to rev up. Taste the air, bounce your arms up and down a little, feel the energy in your core.

Then, kick your legs up and down to give yourself a little momentum,

and just TOSS your body over! Now, the key is getting that top hip over, and once you've done that it's a win.

Come on, you can do it! Don't make me get all Jillian Micheals on you! It's totally worth it- DO IT! ROLL! ROOOOLLLLLLLL!

Now, harness that momentum, and prepare for your landing with your free arm. And, seriously, watch your face. I've slammed my adorable button nose into the carpet more times than I care to count.

Phew! We did it!!! Totally worth the effort, right?!?!

So glad to be a part of your milestone successes today, guys! Thanks for having me! Now, a few housekeeping things:

My mom wanted you to know that I'll be back in a few weeks to guest post on my first forays into eating grown-up foods. It's called, "Solids: Who Needs 'Em."

Also, my big brother will be by soon to do a guest post entitled "Aim High: On Getting Your Stream INTO The Potty." Very helpful tips & pointers.

My brother is also working on another project that he hopes to debut soon- a mathematical matrix that shows how many combinations of requests he can use to call my mom & dad back into the bedroom AFTER he's been put to bed. It's quite fascinating. He's compiled a list of all the needs/excuses/requests that he hollers out from his bed, and he's assigning each one a numerical value. Each value will factor in the legitimacy of his request, the number of times it produces a response from mom and dad, and the level of fury that it incites in mom. There's also an equation that predicts how quickly each subsequent request will escalate the situation, and hopefully when he's finished the testing, it will be able to pinpoint exactly when a particular request will trigger a total meltdown, and whether that meltdown will be his or my mother's. Really fascinating stuff. Hopefully he'll be ready to share it soon. If my mother doesn't kill him first.

Thanks again for reading my post! Have a great weekend! And, Happy Rolling!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Oh, Summer.

There are so many reasons to love you.

The glorious heat, the sunshine, time off of work, the beach, the pool, the end of school, vacations, sno-cones, watermelon, new bathing suits, the smell of sunscreen... I could go on and on.

But today, Summer, I love you the MOST for drying up the dog turds in my backyard, and making them less gross to pick up or step in, whichever comes first.

For this, you have my loyalty. You are, always and forever, my favorite season.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Graduversary Weekend

A couple of weekends ago we visited my parents. It was Frank's high school graduation (!!!) and my parent's 30th wedding anniversary was that week as well, so we had planned to suprise them with a little celebration.

In my typical fashion I have NO photos of the actual events- the surprise lunch for my parents on Saturday OR Frank's graduation ceremony on Sunday. (Never, ever hire me as a photographer for ANYTHING important. My unreliability is downright reliable!)

You will just have to trust me on these facts, since there is no photo evidence:
  •  The Surprise Anniversary Lunch was a success! We went to Clyde's, it was delicious, we got everyone (all of my siblings & spouses & children) there on time, and- the real feat- I think we actually surprised my parents. They are NOT easy to pull one over on, so we were all proud of ourselves.
  • Frank graduated from high school! Holy Cow! He's heading to VT in the fall. This makes two Earley kids who went to VT, two at UVA, and only oneeeeeee lonely me who went to W&M. I'm trying to convice Annie to follow in my footsteps, but it's not looking good.
  • Continuing in the theme of surprises, we all went in together to get Frank an new iPhone 4 as a graduation present. The look on his face when he opened it was HILARIOUS.
Now, although I do not have any pictures of The Big Events, I do have this lovely smattering of photos from hanging out all weekend. And, since this blog often functions as a virtual shoebox to shove my pictures in, here they are!!

Annie teaching Henry the ways of Karaoke. Help us all.

Monday, June 25, 2012


So, what do you guys do for fun on the weekends?
We go to Costco.

Friday, June 22, 2012

We Got You Some Things

Happy Friday, everybody!

In honor of the upcoming weekend, and the fact that IT IS SUMMER! MY SUMMER HAS STARTED! my kids got you some things.

Henry got you this Swedish Fish:

You are SO welcome.

Maggie got you this towel:

To help you clean up, after you suck on your Swedish Fish for half an hour.
You are SO welcome.
(Also, she is feeling and looking SO much better, yes??)

Happy (SUMMER!) weekend, friends! Hope it's a good one.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oh, Hi.

Alternate Title: What I WOULD have posted, if I had posted yesterday or the day before.
Alternate Title: Hi little blog! Yes, I missed you too. For two WHOLE non-weekend days. Let's never let it happen again, shall we?

Poor Maggie has been sick for the past three days. :( I know, I know. Let's all have a collective moment of "Awwwwww, poor baby girl!"

Thank you.

After Monday's post, the fever turned to more fever, which turned to vomiting, which turned to over 8 hours of not being able to keep ANYTHING down, which turned to a torturous night in which I nursed her for 2-3 minutes every 30-60 minutes just trying to keep her hydrated, which, duh, led to a trip to the pediatrician the next day to have her white blood cell count checked, because, bad virus? Maybe. Mystery Baby Infection With Terrible Awful Consequences? PROBABLY MOST LIKELY THAT IS WHAT THIS IS.

Aaaaaaand then her fever broke while we were at the pediatrician. Because, OF COURSE IT DID. OF COURSE.

These are the rules of parenting. As SOON as you get to the doctor, everyone WILL be fine.

(Other rules of parenting, you should know:
As soon as you sit down to eat, your kid will need water/napkin/fork/rainbows/unicorn/ranch dressing RIGHT NOW.
As soon as you pull out of the driveway, your kid will need to pee. RIGHT NOW.
As soon as you put a nice outfit on her, your baby will blow out her diaper.
As soon as you start making out with your husband, someone WILL wake up.
Because, OF COURSE THEY WILL. #$%&^*#@&#)

But, even feverless, she had a terrible time sleeping last night. And I do mean, TERRIBLE. I think her tummy was still hurting. :( Another chorus of poor baby girl? Thank you.

She seems much, much better today. No more fever, eating normally, and, thank the Good Lord Above, napping normally too. Because, seriously, guys, I will die if I don't sleep for at LEAST THREE SUCCESSIVE HOURS tonight. THREE. I'm not even aiming that high.

In other news, I gave Henry a Swedish Fish today for the first time ever. Because I am a sneaky mother, I keep him in the dark about such things for as long as possible. We keep very little snacky or sweet kinds of food in the house, so every time the kid gets a piece of candy, or even some sort of 'normal' (but highly processed!) kid food- like crackers, or chips, or prepackaged cheese sticks, or box mac & cheese, or even pretzels, he goes BONKERS MC GEE with excitement.

He sucked on that Swedish Fish for like, 20 minutes, before I finally was like- Dude. You chew it. CHEW. With your teeth. See? Yes. This is called 'gummy candy.' And there is more to be had in the world. You don't have to nurse that fish until you turn five.

He ignored me and continued licking his fish while repeatedly saying:

"Mommy, I yuv dis fishie! Mommy, dis fishie is so good! Mommy, dis fishie so yummy!!! Mommy, you yike dis fishie??"

Oh, yeah, this just in: apparently I'm "mommy" now.

I've been "mama" for almost 2 and half years, but few weeks ago, he started saying Mommy.

Okay, I can handle that. Brief period of mourning for the baby-boy-that-said-Maaaaaaamaaaaaa (whimper, whimper) but I can handle it. Mommy is cool.

Then, yesterday, he called me Mom.

"Mom! Mom, need more milk."

Mom? Mom?!? MOM??? Seriously??

Okay, fine, you can have more milk, but don't even THINK about asking me to move your curfew back, because you've gotta EARN those kinds of privileges young man. And, go mow the lawn or something. I hear kids your age can, like, DO STUFF for their parents.

Footnote: I just read this post over and laughed out loud at myself. Not because I'm funny, but because, seriously, you can just tell by reading this rambly bunch of paragraphs that I have not slept or had any contact with the outside adult world for DAYS, can't you?? You totally can.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Baby's First Fever

 Maggie has a fever. Booooooooooooooooo.

She got it in the middle of the night last night and is still running toasty temperatures this afternoon. Poor baby girl.

I have said this before, but I hate it when my kids are sick. I am not a good sick-kid mom. I get anxious and stressed and twitchy. I wish I could say that I had gotten better at it this time around, but nooooooope. I still fight the compulsive urge to take her temperature every 15 minutes and call the pediatrician JUST IN CASE, even though I know exaaaaaaactly what she will say.

Maybe by the 3rd kid I won't freak out? The 4th? Maybe never? Ugh.

However, I have improved in one sick-kid mothering aspect.

My personal secret to handling a poor sick baby and not falling apart is that I give myself the Quit Everything Else Pep Talk.

It goes like this:

"Self, listen up. Your job is to snuggle and nurse today. And ONLY to snuggle and nurse.

Did you hear me?



That's it.

Let the laundry sit,

 let the dishes fester,

and let all well children have free reign over the house today.

I mean, mostly free reign. You still need to feed them and take them to the potty and stuff. But really, relax those standards, girl

TV? Suuuure.

Build a fort with the sofa cushions? You got it.

Get out every book and toy within a 2354234 mile radius and leave them strewn about the house? Ugh. Okay, fine.

Sit on the dog's face? Uh, nope. No way. I guess that's where we'll draw the line today. No sitting on the doggie, please.

So strap on that Moby wrap, forget your schedule, and hide the to-do list. The mess will be there tomorrow, I guarantee it!  You can plan a better day for everyone else tomorrow, too.

Today, it's all about this girl.

And she would really just like to snuggle. And nurse.

Oh, and, ummm, Self? There's just one more leeeeeetle teeeeny tiiiny thing.

When Henry pees on the sofa today, just... well... I dunno. Maybe just try to remember that you can have a nice glass of wine tonight after everyone's asleep. And you can drink it on the OTHER side of the sofa."

End Pep Talk.

Works every time, guys. Works every time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

First Cousins Once Removed

I have a lot of cousins.

My mom is one of five children, and she and her siblings have produced 20 children to date. All of my memories of gathering at my grandparent's house for holidays or summer visits are dominated by a teeming mass of bodies. TEEMING.

Cousins, crammed hip-to-hip on sofas, piled on top of each other on the floor, rolling out of doorways. The adults were so severely outnumbered by children that it was laughable. At bedtime, we'd cover the floor with sheets and call it done. Pillows and blankets were nice if you could get one. Don't count on it. But, with any luck, you'd have run around so much in the backyard that day, and eaten so much good food, and then snuck back into the kitchen later that night to sneak Cheez-Its and potato chips, and, if you were really lucky, a Klondike bar, that you were so full and happy and tired,  you'd fall asleep regardless. And it wouldn't even matter if one cousin was snoring in your ear and another one squirming and kicking you in his sleep, because COUSINS! It's so fun to go see the cousins!

I remember crowding well over a dozen kids around my grandmother's table, sitting with my butt half-on-half-off the edge of the bench, aunts and uncles leaning on counters, and one of my cousins poking me with his knobby elbows and telling obnoxious knock-knock jokes SO LOUDLY RIGHT NEXT TO MY EAR, but I was so happy just to be with everybody, and ESPECIALLY so happy that I got to eat during the FIRST shift of dinner that I didn't even care.

There was a certain camaraderie to our cousinship that went deeper than the simple fact that our mothers looked alike and talked alike and came from the same mother themselves. Was it cramming around that kitchen table that did it? Sleeping in such close quarters? Working together to sneakily watch an off-limits move in Grampa's TV room?

Or, is it just the common bond of shared memories. That they also remember Grampa's pages of zeros, tacked inside the kitchen cupboard, where he had marked 0 cigarettes and 0 drinks every day for hundreds of days. That they also know Grandma's weird rule about only taking 2 cubes of ice and that it is a SIN to touch her quilting stuff. That a huge chunk of our childhood memories happened in the same neighborhood, same house, same yard.

My grandparents sold their home last year, to move into a retirement type community. That house belongs to someone else now.  When I think that I will never run around in that backyard, or get yelled at for banging on my Grandma's piano, or get M&M's out their twisty-man jar, or cram around that kitchen table with my cousins again, it feels more than nostalgic; it feels just plain sad.

But even though my grandparent's house isn't ours to visit anymore, the memories, camaraderie, and relationships are still ours, and that's not too shabby either.

In the past decade we've been able to stage one awesome cousin's reunion where we got ALL OF US TOGETHER AT ONE TIME. It was a feat. (Guys, we should schedule another one soon. SO SOON!) However, right now, the cousins are marrying off and procreating at an ALARMING rate, which is great for two reasons.

Reason #1: Weddings are the perfect way to see everybody. Get engaged, plan our family reunion! I mean, your wedding!

Reason #2: BABIES! People keep having babies, which is awesome because it A)adds to the chaos which is such a integral part of our cousin memories, B) first-cousins-once-removed are so AWESOME!

Now, in case your family tree hasn't necessitated you learning these terms yet, allow me to share my expertise. When YOU have a kid and YOUR COUSIN has a kid, your kids are each others second cousins.

First-cousins-once-removed is what MY kids are to my cousins. Or, what my cousin's kids are to me.

Still confused? Probably just don't worry about it too much. Not a big deal unless they ask you on Jeopardy one day.

At MC's wedding I got to see several of my cousins which was awesome. And Henry and Maggie got some real bonding time with one of their second cousins. This is my cousin Olivia's daughter, and she is a gem and could probably have been left alone to care for my children and would have done an excellent job, were it not frowned upon to leave small children in the care of a second-grader.

Doesn't she look very competent? She is. Maggie was very happy hanging out in her lap.

One cute group shot:

Sweet, right?
Okay, now here's the real winner of the bunch:


Coming from a family of 6 kids myself, I have high hopes of recreating for my kids the same kind of glorious 'teeming mass of cousins' memories that I grew up with. And aside from having their own cousins to play with, hopefully we can toss in a few second cousins too. It looks like there will be enough of them. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This is my daughter, Maggie.

She is 6 months old.

HOLY CRAPBALLS! Six months!?! Are you sure?!?!

Yes. I am sure. Check the date for yourself.

Plus, she has the toofins to prove it.

Clearly, she is supercute. Every day, every way, no way around it: supercute.
But, did you happen to notice that she has been EVEN CUTER THAN USUAL in today's photo shoot???

Well, she has been.

It's because she's wearing these adorable onsies that my lovely friend Chelle made.
See the birdy?! You love him, right?? I love him too.

Chelle thrifts onesies, and then hand-stitches little cutout pieces of fabric to them to make little animals, ships, airplanes, whatever you can think of.

They are all UNSPEAKABLY cute. Here are the two other ones she made for Maggie; a baby buggy and an elephant:

The elephant. She is so cute. So very, very, cute.

I love these onesies. I love ALL onesies, to be honest, but these have definitely become my favorite to dress Maggie in.

I also really love having crafty friends. (Even if does make me feel bad about myself sometimes.)
Thanks for the onesies, Chelle! Maggie loves them! (And, obviously, I do too.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 Reading List: Part II

It's that time again! When I force you sit and listen to me ramble about all the books I've been reading and why I did or didn't like them! It's the nerdy-bloggy equivalent of a vacation picture slideshow! But, shhhhhh, the key difference is this: you can just walk away from this post at any time, and I'LL NEVER KNOW. Go ahead. I don't mind! I'll never know!

Still here? Hiiiiiii, nerdybooky friends. You know I love you the best. 

2012 Reads:

1. House Rules, Jodi Picoult

2. Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese

3. The Lonely Polygamist, Brady Udall

4. Knowing God, J. I. Packer
I picked this one up at the end of February, and am still reading it. It's a theology book, and though it's not super-heavy, I feel like it's best digested in small bites. I've been reading a chapter every week or so, I'll finish it soon and post a real review. But, so far, so very good.

5. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
This was a winner. A real winner. It's basically a biography of a WWII veteran, starting in his childhood, following him through his war experiences, and then through his struggles after returning home. His story is profound. Heartbreaking. If it were fiction, I'd say that it was totally overdone and unbelievable- no one could survive that much and live to tell about it. But it's not fiction, IT REALLY HAPPENED. My only caveat for you is that I did not realize that the book would be as dark as it is. Louis is held as POW in Japanese camps, and the torture, cruelty, and systematic removal of human dignity is atrocious and ruined my sleep for more than a few nights.  But, it's still worth reading, worth discussing, worth knowing.

6. The Bells, William Harvell
ATTENTION: PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. I KNOW I SAY THAT A LOT, BUT I REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME. It's the best book I've read in about two or three years. I know, I know, I often gush about books, but I think the last book I loved this much was The Brothers K and I read that three summers ago. (I think? Maybe two?) I bought The Bells because I heard several people in my book club talking about how it was their favorite book club book, but they had done it BEFORE I joined book club, so I felt left out and I had to catch up. I am so glad I did.

7. A Visit From The Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
Another real winner. And, it won a Pulitzer and a bunch of other prizes and HBO is making into a series, so you know I'm right about THIS one being good. :) I actually re-read it in April, I read it last year for the first time, but I don't think I ever posted about it, so, now I have. It's awesome.

8. The Cry of The Soul, Allender & Longman
I'd been reading this one for awhile; another 'best digested in small bites" kind of book, but I finished it in April. It is EXCELLENT. The subtitle is "How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God." The book dissects and discusses difficult emotions such as anger, fear, and despair through the lens of Christian theology. A completely fascinating perspective, and for me, a lot of ideas and concepts that I had never really been presented with before. Highly recommend.

9. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
Now, guys, I do realize that I've forcefully told you read the past four books, but I don't really see any reason to stop here. You should ALSO read this book. You've probably seen the movie. But, seriously, read the book. It's the PERFECT summer read- it's fun, it's light, it's adventure and romance and comedy, and you can just thank me later.

10. Reading My Father, Alexandra Styron
I'm about halfway through this one. Non-fiction, autobiographical book by the daughter of William Styron. Totally fascinating so far. And, yes, I KNOW it's June. I'll catch up! I swear!

11. A Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
Also about halfway through this one. Really, really enjoying it.

On Deck for the Summer:
Sacred Rhythms, Barton (rereading)
Saturday, McEwan
Love Walked Among Us, Miller
Give Them Grace, Fitzpatrick & Thompson

Only one of those is fiction, so very soon I'll be beginning my quest for What Novels Should I Read On Vacation This Year. I'm very excited. I love that quest.

Any recommendations?

(You can find Part I of 2012 here. And, if you're REALLY nerdybooky, then good news for you! I finally got around to labeling posts, so if you look at the bottom of this post, and click on the 'books' label, then you can read all the posts I ever wrote about the books I read. I know, I know. You are SOOOOOOOOO welcome.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Game Changer

Henry now knows that you can lick the beaters.

You guys, this is a TOTAL GAME CHANGER.